on those who hope in his love,
to rescue their souls from death,
to keep them alive in famine.
Psalm 32 
. . .
The first reading from today is about the famine in Egypt, the first episode in the story of Joseph's reunion with his brothers in Egypt. It is one of my childhood favorites, the story of Joseph and his many-colored coat, his fall and rise again in Egypt, and his restoration to his family. It made a great musical.
But it's more complicated than that, isn't it? Joseph must have been a really annoying kid. He told his older brothers that he would rule over them, and his father singled him out. Now that I have a 9-year-old son who has his challenging days, I can imagine how aggravated his brothers must have been. Not, of course, that they can be excused for getting rid of him. Turns out, though, that it wasn't such a bad thing after all: God chose 'to keep them alive in famine' through the very wrong act they committed.
Now, I should have seen that before. It is a picture of redemption bigger than the one I had five minutes ago. Really. Although I am a big fan of Romans 8:28 ('God works all things together for the good...'), I tend not to include intentional sins in that 'everything' that God causes to work for the good of 'those who hope in his love.' So, as I look back over my life and cringe as I remember things I shouldn't have done, I don't need to worry so much about the 'what if I hadn't...?' and the 'what if, instead, I had...?' No. Certainly things would have turned out differently. And I might have been spared some grief, as surely Joseph's brothers might have if they had borne with their brother's vexing attitude. But the purposes of God would not be served any less. I cannot thwart the saving purposes of God.
Does that mean I shouldn't worry about whether I am acting in accordance with God's will? Of course not--as St Paul says. But I can act in faith, knowing that even if I have read wrongly, God will still 'keep [me] alive in famine': the thing is to 'hope in his love'. He's God. That's all he asks of us.